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How To Upcycle a Thrift Store Tray with Decoupage

We’re sharing how to upcycle a thrift store tray with decoupage today!

As we fully settle into the winter season, we’ve been looking for things that can help make our lives easier or better.

Honestly, my plan is to keep this theme going for the entire year, not just this season.

Recently I was putting away Christmas and pairing things down to quiet the house when I noticed that we have trays sprinkled all over.

I guess I never really noticed it because they fit so seamlessly into our lives from making afternoon tea feel a little fancy to making cleaning up after parties a lot easier.

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Several years ago, I found this fabulous gold tray with French Script at a thrift store while we were at the cabin.

It was inexpensive due to the big water stains, and for that reason, I almost passed it up.

But at the last minute, I decided to take a chance on it and see if I could save it somehow.

While this thrift store tray didn’t initially turn out as I expected (I wanted to find a way to keep the beautiful script so bad I had an epic craft fail my first go round!), the end result was so fun and quirky that it made me take a second look at the other thrift store trays we have in our garage.

How to Upcycle a Thrift Store Tray with Decoupage-The Crowned Goat

Here’s a look at how to upcycle a thrift store tray with decoupage…

Upcycle Thrift Store Tray Supplies:

  • Thrifted Tray
  • Measuring Tape
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Heavy Cardstock Paper
  • Decoupage or Mod Podge Glue
  • Craft Brush (for glue application)
  • Foam Roller or Small Straight Edge (the size of a gift card)

Upcycle Thrift Store Tray Steps:

Gather your supplies and make sure your work surface is free from dirt and debris. Then lay a tarp down to protect your work area.

Use a measuring tape to measure the inside of your thrift store tray.

Next, mark the measurements on your heavy cardstock paper with a pencil.

Then using caution and care, as scissors will be sharp, cut the paper according to your measurements. This will become the insert you’ll use for the top of your tray.

Apply decoupage glue to the base of your tray with a craft brush. I could not peel the original paper off my tray so I had to apply the pink plaid paper over it.

I definitely think a clean smooth surface would have been a lot easier to work with though. I’ll show you why below.

Then gently lay your heavy cardstock insert between the groves of your tray and press down.

Use a foam roller or straight edge to carefully work out any ripples. I didn’t have one on hand but knew I should have used one immediately!

Once the glue has dried completely, add additional layers of decoupage glue to the top of your tray. Allow the tray to dry for at least 24 hours before using it.

What We Love About This Simple Idea…

What we love about this simple upcycle thrift store tray with decoupage is that it’s so easy to complete!

You can give it a custom feel and use the same colors as you have in your home’s color palette or give it a seasonal feel.

You can even personalize a thrift store tray like this and give it as a gift.

Truthfully, the possibilities are endless.

How to Upcycle a Thrift Store Tray with Decoupage-The Crowned Goat

For more inspiration on upcycling a thrift store tray check out my sweet friend Cindy of Reinvented Delaware. She has an amazing post on How to Apply a Transfer to create a French Script Tray. It’s beautiful!  

If you’re still looking for quick and easy Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas, you’ll love these posts…

25 DIY Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

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DIY Valentine’s Day Mailbox

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Ultimate Valentine’s Day Gift Guide (112 Ideas to Explore)

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And if you’re looking for more tray ideas, this post went viral and was featured in a magazine!

How to Easily Paint and Age a Silver Serving Tray

How to Easily Paint and Age a Silver Serving Tray-The Crowned Goat

Let us know your favorite way to upcycle a thrift store tray!

How to Upcycle a Thrift Store Tray with Decoupage-The Crowned Goat
Until next time, I’ll see you on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

Many blessings,


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  1. I LOVE this!! Trays are fabulous..any shape, material, color, whatever. I have trays ALL over the house to corral items on counters, under sinks, dressers, etc…I love this idea to use old trays and give them new life!! I’m going to try this next time I come across on old tray at the thrift store!

    1. Trays are definitely an organizers secret weapon, Rachel, I couldn’t agree more. Plus they make clean up super simple and you know we could all use simple in our lives right now. Can’t wait to see what you come up with. I wish I lived closer. I would thrift with you any day of the week. Hugs, CoCo

  2. I love how you were able to totally transform this tray with some Mod Podge and cardstock paper. The end result is so gorgeous. Now this craft has me daydreaming of all the different possibilities a simple thrift store find can opened up.

    1. I know what you mean, Heidi! There are always a ton of trays at the thrift stores and you could totally put your spin on one too. We have them all around the house and use them all the time. Plus, the make cleaning up after movie night super simple. Hugs, CoCo

    1. Thank you bunches, Susan, I appreciate it! Hugs, CoCo

  3. I chortled to myself, I thought you were going to show how to get that marvelous distressed finish on the script paper….just goes to show what is one person’s jelly is someone else’s toast. Grins, nice finish though.

    1. My Mom felt the same way, Sandi! She was like “I can’t believe you covered that beautiful script up!” I promise if I ever find a similar script I’ll decoupage over the plaid. I loved the script too. Sending you hugs and hoping your winter season has been a special one, CoCo

  4. This tray looks great! I have plans for some silver-plated trays

    1. Thanks so much, Cindy! I painted one of our silverplate trays a creamy white a few years ago and I still love it to this day. Can’t wait to see what you have in store. Hugs, CoCo

    1. Thanks so much, Alexandra, I really appreciate it. Hope you’ve had a great week, CoCo

  5. So I love how you refer to the “epic craft fail”. I have been there many a time – and had to laugh when I read it. Having said that – I always find that if I just stick with it – I end up creating something that exceeds my original expectations. Right? It’s just that willingness to persevere and not give up. The revamped thrift store tray looks amazing. It would be so pretty on a vanity filled with make-up, perfume bottles, and sparkly hair clips. Another project that you totally knocked out of the park! Thanks for the inspiration and great step by step instructions CoCo! Hugs to you. (Oh and Pinned!)

  6. Hi, CoCo! I love to use trays in my decor to coral items and make beautiful vignettes! This reminded me I have a tray I haven’t used in a long time because it doesn’t match much in this house! Time for a DIY! Thanks for the inspiration! I love how the paper you used matches your blush pink decor items! Pinning now!

    1. They’re definitely easy to use and I love how utilitarian they are, Donna! This one was super simple to make and hardly took any time at all. I have a few more in my garage I’m hoping to transform as well. I can’t wait to see how yours come together. I know they’ll be fabulous. Sending you hugs and wishing you a very Happy Birthday, CoCo

  7. I’ve done this too a few times lol it’s a great way to salvaged an otherwise good tray:) Love your paper pic. Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm.xo Kathleen

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